Title: The Timing of Marriage vis-à-vis Co-residence and Childbearing in Europe and the United States
Author: Jennifer A. Holland
Journal: Demographic Research, 36(20), 609-26. DOI 10.4054/DemRes.2017.36.20
These descriptive findings extend Holland’s (2013) marriage typology, linking the timing of marriage, childbearing and cohabitation, and apply it to a range of European countries and the United States. The meaning of marriage is organized around six ideal types: Direct Family Forming, Post-Cohabitation Family Forming, Conception-Related Legitimizing, Birth-Related Legitimizing, Reinforcing and Capstone marriage.
I present descriptive tabulations of data from the Harmonized Histories, covering 17 European countries and the United States, to highlight continuity and change in the context of marriage across the life course, cohorts and countries.
Although smaller shares of women entered marriage at each age across cohorts, there is increasing diversity in the timing and context of marriage. Family Forming marriage continues to be the majority marriage experience, but Direct Family Forming marriage has declined and Post-Cohabitation Family Forming marriage has increased in many contexts. Conception-Related Legitimizing marriages became more important in Central and Eastern Europe, but less common in Western, Northern and Anglo-Saxon countries. Limited evidence for growth in post-first-birth marriages suggest that childbearing intentions or a first conception continue to be important triggers for marriage, although this may be changing in Nordic, Anglo-Saxon and some Western European countries.
While most people who marry do so prior to or in the absence of a first conception, increasingly marriage is not the first step in the family building process. Still, for many women in diverse country contexts, marriage continues to be very closely linked to initiating childbearing.
Holland, J. A. 2015. “The meaning of marriage vis-à-vis childbearing in the United States and Europe.” ESRC Centre for Population Change Working Paper no. 72.
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